December 8, 2011

For any child who's always wanted to live out Hansel and Gretel minus the threat of death, New York sweets purveyor Dylan's Candy Bar is selling an edible, 6.6-foot-high gingerbread playhouse ($15,000). Made from 381 lbs. of gingerbread and 517 lbs. of icing, the playhouse is decorated with thousands of cookies, gumdrops, mints, gummy candies, and other sweets, including a lollipop tree inside, "just for good measure." It looks like "the only question will be which one will rot first: The house or your children's teeth." Source: Joe Shopping The Week Staff

11:32 p.m. ET

After running unopposed in Tuesday's primary, it's now official: Arthur Jones, a Holocaust denier, is the Republican nominee for a House race in Illinois' 3rd congressional district.

The Anti-Defamation League says Jones has been involved with anti-Semitic and racist organizations for several decades, and he has a section on his campaign website called "Holocaust?" where a document called "The Holocaust Racket" is posted. Earlier this year, the Illinois Republican Party said it "strongly" opposed Jones' "racist views and his candidacy for any public office," and there is "no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones" in the party or country. The district represents sections of Chicago and nearby suburbs, and Jones will face off against the winner of the Democratic primary: either current Rep. Dan Lipinski or anti-bullying advocate Marie Newman. Catherine Garcia

10:18 p.m. ET
Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images

Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix was suspended by the company on Tuesday, following the release of a secret recording that features Nix talking to an undercover reporter about how to obtain compromising material on an opponent.

The data company worked for President Trump's campaign, and in the tapes, Nix and other executives hint they used bribes and other underhanded techniques to influence more than 200 elections around the world. The undercover reporter was from Britain's Channel 4, and posed as someone who wanted dirt on a Sri Lankan candidate. Nix told him he could "send some girls around to the candidate's house," and when pressed, said they would be Ukrainians. "They are very beautiful," he said. "I find that works very well."

Cambridge Analytica said on Monday the report had been "edited and scripted" to misrepresent the conversations. On Tuesday, the company said it would launch a "full, independent investigation." Catherine Garcia

9:37 p.m. ET
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Authorities in Austin, Texas, responded to an explosion at a Goodwill store in the southern part of the city Tuesday night. One person was injured.

The victim is a male in his 30s, and his injuries are described as serious but not life-threatening. The Austin Police Department later tweeted that it was "not a bomb, rather an incendiary device" that went off inside a package, and "at this time, we have no reason to believe this incident is related to previous package bombs." The injured man, a Goodwill employee, took a box of donations "around the corner, and upon looking inside of it, it had two small devices that are artillery simulators that looked like some type of military ordinance or some type of memento," assistant Austin Police chief Ely Reyes said in a press conference late Tuesday. The incendiary device was also described as a flare.

There has been a string of bombings throughout Austin since March 2, and police believe that those incidents are connected. Two people have been killed, and four others seriously injured since the first bomb exploded inside a package. Early Tuesday, a package exploded at a FedEx shipping center 60 miles south of Austin, and the FBI said a suspicious package reported at a FedEx distribution center near Austin's airport "contained an explosive device."

This is a breaking news story, and has been updated throughout. Catherine Garcia

8:33 p.m. ET
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Before he called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, President Trump was warned in all caps by national security advisers not to congratulate Putin on his re-election, officials familiar with the phone call told The Washington Post.

Trump did congratulate Putin, and the White House later said they also discussed arms control and the situations in Syria and North Korea. His briefing materials included the note "DO NOT CONGRATULATE," and aides told Trump he needed to condemn the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in England earlier this month; several countries, including the U.S., say Moscow is likely behind the attack. Trump didn't bring this up, the Post reports. Analysts say Russia's election, which Putin won with 76 percent of the vote, was undemocratic, and there are videos showing ballot box stuffing.

One senior White House official told the Post that it's not clear if Trump read the materials, and another said National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster did not explicitly say anything about not congratulating Putin during a phone briefing ahead of the call. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was not impressed by Trump's conversation with Putin, and tweeted Tuesday afternoon: "An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election." Catherine Garcia

7:38 p.m. ET
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After spending a decade at Fox News as a strategic analyst, retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters did not renew his contract, and sent colleagues a farewell email detailing all of the issues he has with the network, which he calls a "propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration."

Peters, who often appeared on Fox as a vocal critic of former President Barack Obama's foreign policy, wrote in his email that he believes Fox News is "assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law, while fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers. Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association. Now I am ashamed."

The network once provided "a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices," he said, but now, primetime hosts like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson "dismiss facts and empirical reality to launch profoundly dishonest assaults on the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts, the intelligence community (in which I served) and, not least, a model public servant and genuine war hero such as Robert Mueller."

In a statement, Fox News said Peters is "entitled to his opinion despite the fact that he's choosing to use it as a weapon in order to gain attention. We are extremely proud of our top-rated primetime hosts and all of our opinion programing." Read Peters' entire email at BuzzFeed News. Catherine Garcia

6:43 p.m. ET
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A New York judge on Tuesday rejected President Trump's motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by Summer Zervos, a contestant on The Apprentice in 2005.

Zervos has claimed that in 2007, while in Trump's New York office, he kissed her on the lips twice, making her "uncomfortable, nervous, and embarrassed." She also alleged that while at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Trump kissed and groped her, and pressed his genitals against her. In January 2017, Zervos filed a defamation suit against Trump, after he made inflammatory comments on the campaign trail about Zervos and other women who accused him of misconduct.

In her decision, Judge Jennifer Schecter wrote that "no one is above the law," and "nothing in the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution even suggests that the president cannot be called to account before a state court for wrongful conduct that bears no relationship to any federal executive responsibility." Trump's attorney, Marc Kasowitz, has argued that Trump's comments were just political rhetoric, and on Tuesday, said he will appeal the decision. Catherine Garcia

5:37 p.m. ET
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It's been six months since Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico, and the island still has a long way to go in recovering from the storm, which left hundreds of thousands of citizens without homes, electricity, or running water. But beyond infrastructure reconstruction, Puerto Rico faces another challenge as a result of the storm: skyrocketing suicide rates.

The number of suicide attempts between November 2017 and January 2018 was more than double the same period a year ago, Vox reported, based on data from the island's Commission for Suicide Prevention. The report found that in those three months, a crisis hotline run by Puerto Rico's health department received more than 3,000 calls from people who said they had attempted suicide — a 246 percent increase from the same period the previous year, Vox said.

In the same period, the hotline also received more than 9,600 calls from people who reported suicidal thoughts — an 83 percent increase from a year ago. El Nuevo Día, a Puerto Rican newspaper, reported that high rates of unemployment and homelessness after Hurricane Maria were likely contributing to the mental health crisis.

Puerto Rico was hit by the Category 4 storm in September, resulting in an estimated $100 billion in damage, reports The Washington Post. The island has made some headway restoring the electrical grid and rebuilding roofs on damaged homes, though many residents are still without power. The storm's total death toll is still unknown, as a recount is set to be completed in April. Summer Meza

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